few political hacks from Bern to show its leaders how to build a non-confessional federal state.
For the moment though, it will have to deal with Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri’s resignation after a tumultuous two weeks of anti-government protests from thousands of Lebanese who are calling for a radical overhaul of a system which collapsed under its own weight of warlords who have looted the state coffers for decades and simply don’t even know what governance – even poor governance – is, in any shape or form.
Hariri’s resignation could mean a new anti-corruption agenda installing itself within the political institutions – whether he comes back as PM with his own hand-picked cabinet, or is dispatched to the darkness of opposition.
It could also mean just a rearrangement of the window dressing to keep the old guard in place.
The call from protesters to install a new government cabinet of technocrats who are not part of the political elite will have to be heeded; the question is whether it will be done properly or disingenuously. Your technocrats or mine?
The problem Lebanon has is that while many want change, few, if any, are able to provide any lucid vision of what that might entail.
Consequently, this places even more emphasis on political figures. It’s unlikely that a new European style of democratic apparatus will permeate the Lebanese government. What is more likely is that the old system will stay in place, but a genuine crackdown on corruption – which is seen to work – will be forced to take root.
The fundamental difference of opinion is thus. Hariri plus two other groups (socialist Druze and ultra Christian conservative ‘Lebanese Forces’) all believe this should be done through installing an entirely new cabinet of technocrats, based on their individual merit. The opposition to that plan, from Aoun and Hezbollah, is that this can be done from within the existing political framework, with less fuss.